Choice additions to OS X

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It wasn’t too long ago that I was lampooning the multitude of Vista versions, as compared to the two (basically) versions of OS X. Well, I’m here today to eat my words, to some extent. So here we go: Apple, please offer an additional, premium-priced version of OS X. There, I said it. Let's call it OS X Choice, because Advanced, Ultimate, Supremo, and Extra Special all sound too stuffy. How much for OS X Choice? Let’s say $229, a $100 premium over OS X.

Now you might be wondering just what Apple could include in OS X Choice to justify selling a version at a higher price than the standard $129 version. Microsoft, for instance, can offer Vista Ultimate because it holds back features such as remote login, scan and fax, and drive encryption from its lower-priced versions. But not OS X—it already comes with everything in the box, including features that you won’t find on Vista, like an industrial-strength Web server, virtual desktop support, and a multi-version automated backup solution ( Time Machine ). So what would Apple have to throw on top of all that to justify offering OS X Choice at a higher price?

My answer? Nothing. In fact, what I’d really like Apple to offer is less —well, less in the way of more, as it were.

Are you confused yet? Perhaps some examples of what I’d like to see included in OS X Choice will help clarify things.

First off, OS X Choice would include the full OS X Client version, with just one new application: Choice. (If Apple can name the zones within the Spaces application “spaces,” then I can name the new OS X Choice application Choice!) Behind the scenes, of course, there would be code changes required to support the Choice application.

And what would Choice give you? Exactly what its name implies—the ability to choose how you would like to interact with OS X. Choice would allow that by providing user control over a number of features that have historically had control at all. Here are some examples:

Overall system

  • Specify all font families, sizing, and anti-aliasing preferences for menu bars, window titles, buttons, and all other user interface elements.
  • System-wide menu bar translucency can be set between none and nearly-full.
  • Choose from additional professionally-designed “appearance” themes, beyond blue and graphite. A built-in theme editor is available for those who would prefer to design their own.
  • Scroll arrows could be placed together at both ends of scroll bars.
  • Individual system services—Dashboard, Spotlight, Time Machine, Exposé, Spaces, etc.—could be enabled and disabled by the user in one convenient location.
  • The floating desktop clock from OS X 10.4 would again be available.

The Dock

  • Position the dock at the top of the screen.
  • Choose between Stacks and hierarchical folders in your Dock.
  • Enable a tabbed Dock, allowing for more applications in the Dock with less clutter.
  • Easily choose between a 2-D or 3-D dock on any screen edge, with proper perspectives and shadows applied based on location.

The Finder

  • Menu translucency can be set between none and nearly-full.
  • Use tabbed Finder windows.
  • Independently disable the toolbar or sidebar—presently, you can’t disable one without also disabling the other.
  • Create pop-up navigable folders in the toolbar, so you can use drag-hover to drill-down into the folders placed there.
  • Font face and size for the Finder’s sidebar will be user controllable.
  • Keyboard navigation of the Finder’s sidebar will be fully supported.
  • Colors and/or images could be used as backgrounds for icon, list, and column view modes. The color of the sidebar would also be user controllable.
  • All Finder animations (snap to grid, zooming rectangles, etc.) would be individually user controllable (enabled or disabled).
  • For the Windows converts in the crowd, a toggle would enable “Cut” as a valid Finder operation.

Everything else…

The above merely touches on the surface of some of the things that I think Apple could and should offer in OS X Choice. Other things that come to mind include wireless synching of the iPhone; the ability to name spaces (“Work” and “Fun”, for example, instead of “1” and “2”) within the Spaces app; improved keyboard navigation of the menu bar; control over font faces for the interface in programs such as iTunes, Mail, and iPhoto; the ability to colorize folders in Mail’s sidebar; and many more.

But how about you? What user-controllable features would you like to see added to OS X Choice? And more importantly, would you consider spending an extra $100 for it, or do you think this is something that Apple should have available in the standard version of OS X, even if it made the system more complex and harder to configure for many users?

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